Stanford University and UC Berkeley picked to set up new university

Stanford University and UC Berkeley will each get nearly $30 million for helping set up the curriculum and hire faculty for a new graduate university in Saudi Arabia.

The money, spread over five years, will go to Cal's well-regarded mechanical engineering department and to the equally respected Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering and computer science department at Stanford.

The two Bay Area colleges are among five universities that have entered into agreements to help the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology hire 60 faculty members and create graduate-level programs in six disciplines for its planned opening in fall 2009.

Cal and Stanford each will receive $10 million earmarked for the participating departments, $10 million for joint research conducted here and $5 million for collaborative research conducted at the King Abdullah University.

In addition, UC Berkeley will receive $3.3 million to cover administrative costs associated with the work done for the new university and Stanford will receive $4.4 million. The universities can also be reimbursed for other costs, such as travel.

Peter Glynn, director of Stanford's Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering and a professor of engineering, said the participating Stanford departments are already well funded and are more interested in having a role in creating a new university.

"Frankly, the thing that got Stanford faculty interested hasn't really been the funding," he said. "It was more the potential to help create a world-class university. We get to basically initialize this university with a faculty that will share Stanford's values."

The contract with Stanford was not released, but the agreement with the public UC Berkeley laid out in detail what is expected of the mechanical engineering department.

The names of the other universities are expected to be announced later this week, said Ahmad Al-Khowaiter, interim provost of King Abdullah University.